recipe: all-green smoothie

We've all heard about the celebrity following and myriad health benefits of "green juices". But even for those of us who like the flavor of "musty grass" (as one friend put it), paying upwards of $9-a-pop for the health fix seems absurd. Moreover, the DIY types will tell you that juicers are labor of love (emphasis on labor - they're obnoxious to clean), and thus often end up on the shelf.  If you've gone through all those steps and still want the green stuff, you've maybe considered the green smoothie option - typically linked with buying the infamous Vitamix (yup, that's where I'm at). But the frugal foodie  - and MacGyver - inside me wouldn't stand for it, so I set off down the green smoothie road with only a mediocre blender at my side. (This isn't the first time I've mis-used my blender for bizarre projects.) Well, the first batch ended up all over my kitchen - but! - it did work. After a few go-rounds, I worked out the kinks and quickly became addicted to the little suckers. I tested the satiation question last week (this isn't a cleanse, and I'm anti-starving oneself for any purpose), and after a busy workweek with only green smoothies for breakfast, I can honestly attest they are energy in a cup. Caffeine without the crash. (Basically, I'm a convert...I'm sipping one now.)

Energy in a Cup: All-Green Smoothie

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 3 romaine leaves
  • 5 kale leaves (de-stemmed)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1-2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • Lemon juice/lime juice/unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Pour water into your blender.
  2. Finely chop and add to blender (one vegetable at a time) celery, cucumber, romaine, kale, avocado.
  3. Scoop out ripe avocado, blend into mixture.
  4. Add minced/chopped ginger and herbs to mixture.
  5. When you are ready to serve, add acidity to taste: either a healthy squeeze of lemon/lime juice, or – for a probiotic boost – a splash of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
Notes/Tips
1. Blend the cucumbers and celery into the water first. This will create a good liquid base that will make it easier to blend in all the other, rougher veggies. (You can use a wooden spoon to pre-mix the rougher vegetables into pre-existing liquid in order to ease the process.) 2. Be easy on your blender, especially if you don't have a Vitamix. Use the ice-chop/pulse button to break things up before testing the higher settings. 3. Don't overfill your blender. If you get it more than 2/3 full (unless you are making a very water-y smoothie), you will definitely end up with green juice flying around. 4. Make your smoothies on the thick side for easy conservation. Add lemon/lime/apple cider vinegar and extra water just before eating, to make the texture more drinkable.

recipe: purple cabbage summer slaw

When the weather heats up, I prefer to spend as little time slaving over a hot stove as possible. And when I've got a bunch of people to feed, I prefer quick, easy recipes that can sit worry-free in the sun. I came up with this colorful slaw last summer, when my mom happened to have nothing but half a head of cabbage and a well-stocked pantry/freezer to pull from. It has since become one of my family's go-to beach day eats.

Purple Cabbage Summer Slaw

Ingredients
  • 1 head of purple cabbage (medium sized)
  • 1.5 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 cup of shelled, frozen edamame
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • Dressing:
    • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 2 tsp honey
    • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
    • 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
    • 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • Optional:
    • sunflower seeds
    • pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Instructions
  1. Wash and de-core cabbage. Shred in food processor, or finely chop by hand.
  2. In a large bowl, mix peas, edamame, dried cranberries and golden raisins with cabbage.
  3. Mix together vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over slaw and mix well.
  4. Let sit until peas and edamame are properly defrosted (10-15 minutes).
  5. Top with seeds and serve.
Notes You can also serve this slaw over mixed greens (pictured) as a light, but filling, vegetarian salad.

ingredient: garlic scapes

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Late spring/early summer is - by far - my favorite time at the market. It's the season for all things green, a brief window before the multi-hued produce of summer hits stands. It's also a time when I'm likely to find ingredients I've never seen before - which is exactly what occurred at the Union Square Greenmarket, when I fell upon garlic scapes.

I discovered these vibrant green coils between a barrel of string beans and a pile of shallots. Loving all things garlic, I grabbed a few fistfuls and hurried home to do some  research. Apparently, scapes are the flowering stalks of garlic plants, which must be trimmed to allow the bulbs to grow firm and plump. They should be trimmed before they coil more than once, or else they become too fibrous  and spicy.

My first experiment with the scapes involved chopping them into little segments and stir-frying them with baby bok choy. They certainly imparted a pleasant, spicy flavor and crunch, but I didn't feel they were being used to their best advantage. Next up, I threw them into the pickling brew for a bunch of purple carrots. Again, they served their purpose, but regular garlic might have been better.

Finally, I recalled a video recipe by Kinfolk for ribboned asparagus salad.

http://vimeo.com/25385248

At the time, I thought it a beautiful (if slightly tedious) way to prepare asparagus, and mentally filed it away for some special occasion. Upon shredding my first scape ribbon, the kitchen filled with a potent, invigorating garlic odor - and I knew I was onto something.

You could certainly stop there and serve the pan-fried scape ribbons over pasta, but I was more interested in coupling them with other vegetables. Pesto is one of the more common uses for scapes, which made me think of my pesto-loving father, whose favorite food is broccoli rabe. The final product thus became a sort of deconstructed-pesto dish - beautiful, delicious and surprisingly simple for how fancy it looks.

Garlic Scape Ribbons & Broccoli Rabe

Ingredients
  • 8-10 garlic scapes
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 5/6 anchovies
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • olive oil
  • grated cheese (optional)
  • lemon (optional)
Instructions
  1. Wash garlic scapes and cut them in half. Using a vegetable peeler, shred the scapes into long ribbons.
  2. Wash broccoli rabe and cut into small pieces. (Only use the parts of the stalk that have leaves/florets).
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan or wok. Add anchovies to pan.
  4. When oil is hot, add broccoli rabe and garlic scapes. Stir periodically.
  5. After about a minute, toss in the chopped walnuts.
  6. Cook until greens are tender, but the scapes should still be al dente.
  7. Remove from heat, dress with grated parmesan and lemon juice to taste.